Objective: To assess the effects of pulmonary resection for lung cancer on postoperative recovery and limitation of exercise capacity.
Methods: Eighty-two patients (20 pneumonectomies, 62 lobectomies) underwent spirometric pulmonary tests and exercise capacity tests preoperatively, and at 3 months and more than 6 months after the operation.
Results: In the lobectomy group, FEV1 vital capacity (VC), and maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max) decreased significantly 3 months after the operation and improved after more than 6 months, but did not reach the preoperative values. In the pneumonectomy group, FEV1 VC, and VO2max decreased 3 months after the surgery and the values did not recover thereafter. In comparison with preoperative values, the functional percentage losses after more than 6 months for lobectomies and pneumonectomies were 11.2% and 36.1% for FEV1, 11.6% and 40.1% for VC, and 13.3% and 28.1% for VO2max, respectively. Postoperatively, maximal minute ventilation (VEmax), the maximal heart rate percentage, and maximal O2 pulse during the exercise test significantly decreased in both the lobectomy and pneumonectomy groups. Nevertheless, VEmax and O2 pulse improved more than 6 months after lobectomy compared with the value at 3 months, but not after pneumonectomy. Breathing reserve did not differ before and after surgery in the lobectomy group, although it decreased significantly after surgery in the pneumonectomy group. Subjectively, postoperative exercise after lobectomy was limited by leg discomfort (64% at more than 6 months after surgery); after pneumonectomy, exercise was limited by dyspnea (60%).
Conclusions: These results suggest that there are differences between lobectomy and pneumonectomy for lung cancer in terms of recovery and limitation of exercise capacity.